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King Kong

Peter Jackson's epic 2005 remake of King Kong.

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Has some moements but do we really need another version?

  • Dec 14, 2005
  • by
Pros: Good Cast and Kong.

Cons: Film runs way to long, Supporting FX are bad in many places.

The Bottom Line: It has some moments, just not enough to be a true classic.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Following up the box office and Oscar success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is an undertaking that is sure to have its dangers. Expectations of the fans not withstanding, the ability to recapture the magic of the previous series could be akin to capturing lightning in a bottle. When it was announced that Peter Jackson would follow his Oscar success by doing yet another adaptation of “King Kong”, there were plenty of questions amidst the excitement.
Would Jackson be able to do justice to one of the all time classics especially when an earlier remake was a critical and commercial bomb was one of the biggest questions and when it was announced that comedian Jack Black would be in the film, people began to wonder what Jackson had brewing, as Black as well as Academy Award winner Adrian Brody were offbeat choices. As the release date for the film neared, so did speculation over the look of the film, the running time, and its decision to follow the screenplay of the original rather than adapt to a modern setting.

The film follows a filmmaker named Carl Denham (Jack Black), who in am act of desperation flees New York for a mysterious and uncharted island in an attempt to finish his latest movie before the studio can shut him down. Amidst the backdrop of the Great Depression, it is clear that Denham knows that failure now could be the end of his livelihood and his long term future. As he embarks on his fly by night production, Denham encounters Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), a recently unemployed Vaudeville performer who is enticed into the film in the hopes of meeting its writer Jack Driscoll (Adrian Brody). It seems that Ann has long coveted a part in Driscoll’s plays and hopes that by meeting him, she will obtain her long sought after audition.

With the cops and studio hot on their heels, the cast and crew board a tramp steamer named “The Venture” as they set off for the mysterious island that is known only to Denham via a mysterious map he obtained through methods unknown.
As the voyage unwinds, not only does Denham get the chance to film segments of the film, but Ann and a stranded Jack find themselves becoming an item. Jack is inspired by Ann and he works as if a man inspired turning out page after page of material for various projects which he hopes Ann will star.

Eventually the ship finds its way to the mysterious Skull Island surrounded in fog, and the crew venture ashore to take in the bizarre and exotic land that has previously been unexplored. Upon finding a fortified wall and settlement the crew has a run in with some dangerous natives which in turn leads to Ann being kidnapped and offered up sacrificial style to a gigantic creature the Islanders refer to as Kong. Undaunted, Jack and the crew set off to rescue Ann while Denham shoots footage along the way, as the island offers visuals the likes of which have never been seen by mankind.

Along the way, the crew encounters deadly creatures and obstacles at every turn, as does Ann who plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Kong as she comes to grips with her situation. Kong is taken with the lovely Ann and protects her against numerous dangers including a pack of Tyrannosauruses in one of the films best action sequences.

Of course few will be surprised at the final act of the film so I will leave it to say that the fish out of water nature of the previous versions remains intact as Kong finds himself dealing with an urban jungle which leads to a spectacular finale atop the Empire State Building.

In many ways Jackson’s film is three separate films. The first hour of the film is an interesting and at times witty character piece where the lead characters assemble. The look of the city is amazing as it is very clear that enormous amounts of effort went into crafting the look of Depression Era New York, and to remind the audience that Prohibition was also in effect. The interplay between the characters is good as Black does standout work as the slick Denham and Watts as the wholesome and lovable Anne.

The second hour of the film is the special FX showcase where the mysteries of Skull Island and Kong are shown complete with all manner of CGI creatures and action sequences. While most of them are well staged, I could not help but note that on more than one occasion that the CGI backdrops did not match up well with their live action counterparts. There is one scene amidst a stampede where it looked like the actors had been drawn in and that they were running in place as they clearly did not mesh with the spectacle behind them.

Throughout the film this occurrence happened more and more which really had me wondering if the effects house was overtaxed as a film with a budget reportedly over 100 Million should not have this sort of technical issues. Thankfully Kong himself is a wonder as everything from his expressive eyes and facial features are captured in a remarkable way. It is just a shame that the other FX did not get the same treatment as the films namesake as he truly is a site to behold. Andy Serkis who did the character mannerism for the animators to use did a phenomenal job. The movements of Kong move with a strength and agility that bellies a simian rather than a skilled performer.

I do not want it to sound as if I did not enjoy the film, as much of the film worked very well technical issues aside. What my biggest issue with the film was that at over 3 Hours, it was far too long for the material to support. We get numerous scenes of Ann and Kong flirting, bonding, righting, running, and more. What is cute the first couple of times becomes dull the more it is repeated. It is obvious that they have a bond; we do not need to see it over and over ad nauseum to get the message. Also, the character development and interplay between the characters that was so effective in the first part of the film all but vanishes amidst the FX.

The finale of the film is a rousing success as the daring visuals and camera angles are very inventive and thrilling. This segment with its fury of motion and sound will have viewers on the edge of their seat as it certainly delivers the goods. The biggest issue again is having to sit through three hours to get to it.

Anyone who has seen either version of Kong knows exactly where the film is heading, and after two hours of screen time I found myself wishing they would just hurry up and get to it.
Jackson has crafted a very entertaining and lavish film that packs its share of thrills. What the film needed is someone to reign in Jackson and his boundless enthusiasm for the project to remind him that sometimes less is more. Jackson has said that he had over 4 hours worth of material filmed but trimmed it down to its current running time. When the film is almost twice the running time of the original, I found myself thinking that minus 45 minutes the same story could have been told.

Despite the flaws and the hype, “King Kong” is a solid film that for me was more satisfying in many ways than any of the “Rings” films. While not quite a masterpiece, this Kong is worthy of the name and pedigree of the timeless original that inspired it.

3 stars out of 5
Gareth Von Kallenbach


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More King Kong (2005 movie) reviews
review by . September 10, 2011
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**** out of ****     After finishing his breathe-taking "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, Peter Jackson realized that he still had the rest of his entire career ahead of him; and he intended to use whatever time he had left. He has, since the "LOTR" films, made but two films; one of them great, one bad. And luckily for me and for you, we're talking about the better film; which is "King Kong". There's a name you may not; or at least, you should know it. It's the name that comes …
review by . December 12, 2010
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review by . August 23, 2010
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Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 King Kong is exactly how to do a remake. This movie keeps to the spirit of the original, whilst including state of the art special effects and exciting action scenes. Jackson didn't try to add any silly plot twists or change the setting to 2005, but rather set out to remake the original film as it stood. He deserves a lot of credit for resisting the urge to "improve" the basic plot structure and settings of the original King Kong.   …
review by . July 18, 2010
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review by . August 22, 2010
Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 King Kong is exactly how to do a remake. This movie keeps to the spirit of the original, whilst including state of the art special effects and exciting action scenes. Jackson didn't try to add any silly plot twists or change the setting to 2005, but rather set out to remake the original film as it stood. He deserves a lot of credit for resisting the urge to "improve" the basic plot structure and settings of the original King Kong.     The only …
review by . August 19, 2009
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Right after Lord of the Rings became such a smash success at the Box Office and the Academy Awards, Peter Jackson set out to do a film he just about always wanted to do: King Kong.  Peter Jackson talked about how much he enjoyed the film.  And for the most part, King Kong really sounded like a movie Jackson should do.  It could've been a huge epic!  Yeah!  And Peter Jackson does make it an epic.  But when making such an epic where exactly does the line get drawn?  …
review by . July 15, 2009
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review by . February 11, 2009
It's the height of the Depression in New York City, and down-on-her-luck actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) accepts movie director Carl Denham's (Jack Black) offer to sail off for an adventure and make a movie. Playwright/screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) gets stuck on board and they all sail off for Skull Island, a mysterious place that just happens to be the home of bloodthirsty natives, prehistoric animals, and a 25-foot tall ape called Kong. When the natives kidnap Ann and sacrifice her …
review by . April 29, 2009
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review by . November 22, 2008
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About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #37
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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The extended version of Peter Jackson'sKing Kongadds 13 minutes to the running time--fortunately those 13 minutes include two dynamic action scenes and no material has been added to the movie's belabored set-up, which tries to give depth to these quintessentially b-movie characters with a clumsy patchwork of melodrama and in-jokes. But once movie-maker Carl Denham (Jack Black,School of Rock) and his crew finally arrive at Skull Island, the movie kicks into gear with spectacular action, technical wizardry, and genuine feeling. ThoughKongseems crafted to dazzle the eye on the giant screen, the overlong structure improves when you can take an intermission at will. At home, each scene can be approached on its own terms, be it the insanely choreographed battle between Kong and three T. Rexes or the subtle and multi-layered interplay between Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts,Mulholland Drive) and Kong (played, through motion-capture technology, by Andy Serkis, who previously played the similarly animated Gollum in Jackson'sLord of the Rings). The addition of a rampaging ceratops and an underwater race with what the movie's crew dubbed a "piranhadon" not only add more eye candy, but provide some valuable moments of character development. But in the end, that's frosting on the cake; when the movie's weaknesses and strengths are weighed, the emotional power of the fantastical relationship between a woman and a giant ape is a real cinematic achievement.--Bret ...
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Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: December 14, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
Runtime: 3hr 8min
Studio: Universal Studios, Wingnut Films
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